Walmart Inc., which became the world’s largest retailer by servicing ordinary customers, is now aiming for a greater share of business customers with a website focusing on small and midsize businesses.
Ashley Hubka, the senior vice president in charge of the program, said in an interview that the Walmart Business project is intended to provide a one-stop shop for office supplies, furniture, food, and gadgets. Walmart is also promoting a business membership package with additional benefits.
In a January 20 statement, Walmart representatives stated that the website is targeted to the requirements of businesses and NGOs and would provide additional support for busy purchasing managers. This will put the company in a better position to recruit new corporate customers. Walmart also hopes the new B2B sales channel will streamline purchasing for existing corporate customers, enabling the multinational retailer to “earn a larger share of their wallet.”
Walmart believes the initiative would help it compete with rivals such as Staples Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., and Amazon.com Inc., who increased their attempts to court smaller businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the efforts, the verdict is still out on Walmart, at least regarding stock price. Many Wall Street analysts believe the company will remain a slow-growing corporate monster long term. Still, the “hypermarket” franchise faces a challenge in identifying uncharted markets and executing new sources of demand.
According to Hubka, the company launched the business website – business.walmart.com – quietly in September 2022. It is now trying to scale up expansion after fine-tuning the product range based on customer input.
The website lists over 100,000 sale offerings across three primary categories – equipment, supplies/resupply, and food/beverage items. Currently, Walmart Business account settings allow up to five individuals to share a single account – a perk for companies operating across multiple sites.
Walmart also offers a premium account subscription – Walmart Business+, the corporate equivalent of the Walmart+ membership program for individual customers. The business version includes free delivery, 2% incentives on orders of at least $250, and up to 5% discounts on specific goods in subscription orders. Both membership plans are $98 per year.
Critiques of Walmart’s new corporate initiative claim that the move is cannibalistic of Sam’s Club, Walmart’s warehouse-store operation, and another membership-based brand competing for business customers. But according to Hubka, there is enough demand for Walmart to win more new business-to-business sales without reducing income via Sam’s Club stores.
“This will be beneficial to Walmart as a whole,” she explained. “We feel there is a sizable market.”